On the court, Saturday night’s 107-82 win over the Chicago Bulls was a season-high in terms of good vibes for the Mavericks. Off the court, the pre and post game feelings weren’t as positive.
About forty five minutes before tip-off, Mavs.com beat writer Earl K. Sneed shared on Twitter that Dirk Nowitzki would address the media about his lingering Achilles injury that has kept him out of the last four games and only allowed him to play in five of Dallas’ nineteen games so far this season.
After a slight delay and troll attempt by coach Rick Carlisle, who “joked” that Dirk wouldn’t speak until Monday and then retracted his statement later, Nowitzki addressed a swarm of media in front of his locker.
Dirk: "Hopefully I'll be back soon and we can run off some wins." #MFFL
Postgame ?: https://t.co/e95IK3UeTt pic.twitter.com/i7vDBli3sz
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) December 4, 2016
A few notable highlights from what Dirk said:
About the lingering of this particular injury: “It’s frustrating for me. It’s something I’ve never had before in my career.”
As one of the more durable players in history, this is string of missed games is almost unprecedented for Nowitzki. In his now 19 seasons in the NBA, there’s only been one season where he’s missed more than the 14 games he has missed already this season. Dirk missed the first 27 games of the 2012-2013 season after he had surgery on one of his knees in the preseason. Interestingly, the Mavs were pretty terrible in the early portions of that season as well. They were 13-23 nearly halfway through the season, but battled back to finish 41-41 and almost make the playoffs.
Always self-deprecating/self-aware, Nowitzki was honest when he said: “At this stage in my career, I don’t move well anyway. If I’m out there at like 80 or 90 percent, I don’t think I’m a big help.”
Dirk said his setback with the injury occurred in the second half of the Mavs’ loss to the Cavaliers on November 25th. That was his second game back after missing the previous 8 contests. It seems like he might have tried to come back too soon with the team struggling the way it has so far this season. Now that he’s suffered this setback in his recovery, the franchise player seems resigned to the fact that he just needs to wait until he’s completely healed.
“Once I’m out there, I don’t want the same thing to happen again. I want to make sure it’s good to go.”
So while it’s tough for his teammates and MFFL’s to swallow, Nowitzki’s patient approach is the right one. In all likelihood, the Mavericks have already sealed their fate this season with a terrible 4-15 start. However, allowing Nowitzki to fully heal and then have him set to play the rest of the season once he is should allow Dallas to develop some consistency and on-court chemistry that simply hasn’t had the chance to develop this season thanks to the injuries to the likes of the Big German, Deron Williams and J.J. Barea.
Rick Carlisle and company will have to continue to grind without their superstar. This last week of games has been a positive time for the Mavs. Two victories at home and two close losses to teams with winning records like the San Antonio Spurs and Charlotte Hornets. Harrison Barnes will continue to work hard to keep this team afloat until Dirk is fully recovered… whenever that happens.
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